Lucifer attempts to discourage and weaken Paul’s resolve for service by inciting a near-death stoning of Paul by the Jews at Lystra. Lucifer tries to bring disruption and doubt into Paul’s calling, to bring in an element of fear and possibly unforgiving resentment and bitterness toward the Jews into Paul’s God-inspired program of evangelizing the Greco-Roman world. Instead, this failed attempt by Lucifer to attack the ministry of Paul probably only created more spiritual freedom in Paul’s outlook.
From that time forward Paul could consider that he was now operating on borrowed time. Paul had looked a horrible death square in the face, and got up and carried on. If Jesus Christ could raise Paul up from this stoning experience at Lystra, what more could Paul have to fear from opposition to his ministry? Paul could look at each current threat and say to himself that he already experienced far worse and had survived. But on a deeper level, 1 John 4:18 says: “but perfect love casteth out fear.” This extreme physical attack upon Paul did not dampen his love for his Jewish brethren (Romans 9:1-3). Paul exhibits fearless ministry in perfect love (within human limits) throughout his calling to evangelize the first century world, because Paul stayed faithfully within the rigorous training environment that Jesus Christ set up for him. No matter what was occurring in the natural realm in terms of the deadly malice and hatred of the opposition, Paul remained steadfast.
These are all examples of a great, championship-quality Coach instilling the high standards of character and preparedness that produce victory on the field of play.
The greatest harm that man can do to the ways of God is to tinker with the training environment of faith that God sets up. Man is constantly trying to replace the spiritual training program of a walk of faith with God, with empty religious practices that homogenize, sanitize, and nullify the environment of situations and circumstances whereby God can interact with faithful believers. This occurred throughout the Bible. It starts with the lethal contrast between Cain and Abel. Cain wants to change the rules to suit himself. Cain wants to do things his way, with deadly tragic consequences.